November 2008

Thanksgiving Salad

All the flavors of Thanksgiving are combined in this superb salad, which not only provides a lowfat way to use leftover turkey, but also supplies lots of beta carotene. The delicious low-fat dressing uses both cranberry and orange juices for an equally impressive amount of vitamin C.

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 navel oranges
3 cups sliced Romaine lettuce (tough inner ribs discarded, 
   leaves cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips)
6 ounces roast turkey breast, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
3 tablespoons frozen cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (about 1/2 ounce)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries or dark raisins

Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sweet potato is fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool briefly under gently running cold water.

2 Meanwhile, with a serrated knife, remove the peel and white pith from the oranges. Cut each orange in half lengthwise, place the halves flat on a cutting board and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

3 Spread the lettuce on a platter. Top with the sweet potatoes, turkey and orange slices. Sprinkle with the scallions.

4 In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the cranberry juice concentrate, orange juice concentrate, vinegar, oil and pepper. Pour over the salad and sprinkle the salad with the pecans and the dried cranberries.


Nutrition Information (per serving)
calories 393  total fat 7 g (saturated 1 g)  cholesterol 35 mg dietary fiber 8 g  beta carotene 22 mg  vitamin C 126 mg  calcium 103 mg  sodium 52 mg  iron 2.6 mg


I have received questions asking for the best methods for cooking a turkey.  

Here is a website that gives you step by step directions and photos too!–644/roasting-a-turkey-turkey-cooking-times.asp

As we are approaching the final days before Thanksgiving, I just want to remind everyone that grocery stores are continuing to offer the special pricing on frozen turkeys and other staple foods for your meal. I have seen pricing range from .49 to .69 per pound for turkey with a purchase of twenty dollars. Many of the weekly flyers have specials on healthier food items. All three groceries in Boston are currently running the 10 for 10 specials on frozen vegetables. Do take advantage of these saving and store extras in your freezer.   Frozen vegetables are a good source of nutrients such vitamins A, C and fiber.  Frozen vegetables cook quickly and can be added to lower cost pasta, mixed with the leftover turkey or canned meats such as tuna or salmon for a quick and easy meal.


A reminder as we enter this holiday season, we CAN enjoy the season without the added pounds to our waistline.   Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 For the Cook:


  •  Select to prepare foods with using as little salt as possible.
  • Check the label on your frozen turkey; they often have added saline (salt) solutions to retain moisture during cooking.  If so, season the bird with fresh or dried herbs and lemon juice to bring out the flavor without added salt.
  • Remember that many of the prepackage stuffing and canned gravies have added sodium (salt), so again just add fresh or dried herbs to flavor.  
  • Offer your guests steam vegetable options, with no-salt seasoning and no added butter or sauces. You can use healthy almonds slices on the green beans or cook dark green leafy vegetables such as collards simply by sautéing with garlic and olive oil.   
  • In the mash potatoes, casserole dishes, or desserts select to use low-fat milk or evaporated milk to save calories from fat without losing the wonderful taste.
  • Offer your guests lower calorie drinks such as water, low fat milk or diet drinks. Save on your budget by limiting the amount of costly sugary drinks and alcohol.  

 For the Guests:


  • Do not skip breakfast,  our first instinct is to “Not to eat, save room for the big meal”  however eating breakfast ,especially a high fiber breakfast such as whole grain cereal or oatmeal with fruit will sustain you from being totally hungry when you arrive and  help you to resist overeating .
  • Scan the table carefully, select portions of the simply prepared foods such as steam vegetables, plain bake sweet potatoes and lean turkey, take smaller portions of the calorie dense stuffing and mash potatoes.
  • Eat slowly and enjoy the flavors of the foods.  It takes twenty minutes while eating before our brains let us know we are full. So take your time and enjoy the conversation of the guest and family.  
  • After the meal, plan a 30 minute walk or move/dance to some music to gain some physical activity instead of retiring to the couch and watching the games.


Enjoy your healthy Thanksgiving and next week let’s blog about healthy options for leftovers. I’ve got some great recipes, to share but I want to hear from you also. 


Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but food costs have soared since last year. So how can you have a wonderful meal without breaking your budget?

√ Share the cost – and the thanks
√ Stay within budget by planning ahead
√ Begin checking the weekly grocery store flyers now
√ Save on the turkey
√ Keep the menu simple
√ Keep desserts to a minimum
√ Save leftover bread ends now
√ Enjoy the spirit of the season and your meal

Share the cost – and the thanks: If having guests bring prepared dishes is part of your family tradition, by all means continue it. Having others contribute to the meal will decrease your total cost. I am sure there will be some guests who are just waiting to be asked to bring their favorite dish so they can share the compliments when the meal is served.

If this is not part of your custom, this year is the perfect time to reach out to family or friends to discuss sharing. Just remember to plan what each guest will bring so that your meal is balanced. After all, you don’t want to wind up with five desserts and no vegetables.

Stay within budget by planning ahead: If you are the sole provider of the Thanksgiving meal, don’t despair: planning ahead will help reduce the cost.

Begin checking the weekly grocery store flyers now: Many flyers are advertising staples for the Thanksgiving meal. This week, I found frozen vegetables on sale for $1.00 per small box at the three major local supermarket chains. Stock up on the variety of vegetables you traditionally serve with your meal, but also think of vegetables that can be added to pot pies or soups when you’re preparing leftovers.
• Healthy eating tip: Look for the packages with NO added sauces or butters.
The supermarket produce section has vegetables, potatoes (both white and sweet), and a variety of squashes that are priced lower during this season. Gravy and chicken broth are also on sale.
• Healthy eating tip: When choosing the gravy and broth, select the low-fat and low-sodium varieties to help control the added fat and sodium.

Again, having ample supply of these sale items will help save on the main meal and those all-important leftovers. You won’t have to run out to the store when you’re ready to use the extras.

If you are short on funds, check with your local food pantry, church, or community organization to find out if they can help. Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline has staff available to answer your questions. The number is 1-800-645-8333. It’s worth the call!


Save on the turkey: Many grocery stores offer specials on frozen turkeys: Larger turkeys offer the most cost savings per pound. However, if space for cooking or storing is an issue, try purchasing two smaller turkeys. Take advantage of the grocery store specials, which offer the frozen turkey at a lower price if you purchase a minimum amount of groceries. And the good news is that the minimum is a lot lower this year than last. So if you spend about $25 dollars for groceries then you get the turkey for less than half the regular price per pound.
Planning ahead is important for getting the right size turkey and leaving enough time for defrosting safely. Here are some tips on purchasing and handling frozen turkey from the National Turkey Federation:

• When shopping for a whole turkey, it is best to purchase at least one pound per person. This will allow for plenty of extra helpings plus some leftovers. If you don’t want to allow for any leftovers plan on ¾ pound per person.
• Store the bird in the freezer until the thawing time begins.
•  Thaw in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.
• Refrigerator: Allow approximately 24 hours for each four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. So, if you have an average 18 pound turkey, plan four days for defrosting in the refrigerator.

• Cold water: Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound to thaw in cold water, which you should change every 30 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water and be sure to change the water every 30 minutes.
• Microwave: Make sure that your turkey will FIT in your microwave as soon as you bring it home, if you plan to use this method. Follow the microwave manufacturer’s directions and begin to roast the turkey immediately following the microwave process.

Keep the menu simple: Cut back on all those extra side dishes that everyone insists we must have, but frequently wind up going to waste. Select just two additional side vegetables, one stuffing, and the cranberry sauce. This will cut down on waste, preparation time, and additional calories.

Keep desserts to a minimum: Opt for one or two favorite desserts. Desserts are a great option for guests to bring. Making them yourself can also save money and calories. And baking together is a great way to get younger family members involved in the Thanksgiving meal preparation.
If you’re making the traditional pumpkin or squash pies, check the grocery store flyers as these canned items often are on sale.

• Healthy Eating tips: Fruit-based desserts can be healthier options. Apples are now in season and lower cost. Look for recipes for apple crisp or baked apples. Using a fruit-based dessert, you can often find recipes where you can use sugar substitutes as the sweetener and have a dessert option for guests who are limiting their sugar content. Check out this Dutch apple pie recipe.
• To prepare a lighter pumpkin or squash pie check out this recipe.

Save leftover bread ends now: You can add them to stuffing: Or just toast them and keep them tightly sealed in a plastic bag until ready for use.
If you start now, you may set aside enough to meet your stuffing needs. If not, purchase one stuffing that is on sale and add your leftover bread pieces to stretch the purchased bag.

Enjoy the spirit of the season and your meal: By planning the menu, shopping for the specials, and preparing to cook most of the holiday meal at home, you can have a healthy Thanksgiving meal without breaking the budget.

Got leftovers from Thanksgiving? Send me your creative ideas for how to use leftovers so we can save money and keep eating healthy throughout this holiday season.